Tour’s Books Blog

October 2, 2012

My Kindle 3G

Filed under: ebooks,Editorial — toursbooks @ 3:12 pm
Tags: ,

I promised I’d write about my Kindle, and here it is.  First, let me just be clear, NO, I do not have the ‘paperwhite’ Kindle.  I purchased the Kindle Touch 3G with both 3G and wi-fi and the 6″ screen about 6 months ago and have intermittently used it since.  I also bought the leather cover and the power adapter and by the time I was done, the whole package cost just a few cents under $199.00, not a big fat bargain.

The Kindle arrived in good condition, well packaged, and I immediately played with it a bit.  I found adjusting to the whole touchscreen thing annoying.  Also, I want a ‘go to’ and then a page number option.  There is a ‘go to’ feature – though mine seems reluctant to appear – but it does NOT provide a page number or chapter option.  Another feature is the ‘turn page’ by sweeping right to left or tapping the right side.  If you make the natural sweep motion, you’ll often highlight text for comment instead of turning the page.  I found that annoying.  I look to touch at paragraph breaks now.

I ended up on Amazon’s live chat feature when I couldn’t get a completed ebook to go back to the start.  I even did a reset using my laptop.  It was a very frustrating hour.  The tech rep on the chat line was very nice, but my Kindle seems a bit wonky.  It still does.

I started slow, reading free, inexpensive novellas.  For that, it’s perfect.  I did buy a long historical fiction book that is otherwise out of print, The Assyrian by Nicholas Guild, and a bunch of small press/Create Space books that were significantly less expensive in ebook vs print.  This included a bunch of ‘new to me’ authors and Brett Battles, who has, like other established thriller/espionage authors, tried eliminating the publisher and created a series in the Create Space platform that Amazon offers.  I have Create Space print books as well, and they are a nice quality, but mostly priced to encourage to purchase of the ebook.

Now, having read a number of novellas and short novels and kind of gotten the hang of the Kindle, I have some comments.

Screen contrast – As I said at the beginning, this is NOT the new ‘paperwhite’ Kindle, but the older one and the contrast is far from optimal.  The background is pale grey.  While certainly very readable, it has a vaguely ‘dirty’ look.

ebook pricing – This is an area I particular attention to.  Only when the ebook is a significant savings will I consider buying the Kindle in place of a print book.  In many cases, the ebook is MORE expensive because of Amazon’s promotional options on mass market paperbacks.  Most of the bargains are books published by Create Space, Samhain, Siren, and a few other small pubs.  Novellas remain somewhat overpriced, lots of freebies that are great, and you can ‘borrow’ one book a month.  It all adds up.  But is it enough?

Digital file quality – OK, we all know digital content can have gremlins that move words, leave long blank pages after one word, odd word spacing, all kinds of glitches epubs are famous (or infamous) for.  Yes, I’ve had a few, and the now universal problem with homophones that drives me nuts.  Problem is, large publishers now have the same issue, so it’s an invasion of crappy proof-reading and contagious digital content problem.  Sending it to print doesn’t add a quality step that corrects these mistakes, which are present even in best seller hardcovers.  (Publishers should be ashamed.)

Exclusive Digital Content – Yes, there are many novellas and short stories, as well a free books, that are digital content only and not available in print  This is a big plus, but the Kindle itself isn’t needed, just the Kindle app on your computer or smartphone.

Weight – This was kind of a mixed bag.  It’s a lot heavier than I expected.  Far heavier that a mass market paperback.  More significantly, it’s a lot harder to hold.  Without that leather cover I’d be hard put manage it easily.  Very heavy for a purse or pocket.  BUT – it’s is a lot lighter than the 40 or so books/novella loaded on it, so that’s the HUGE plus.  Plus, when traveling, it takes up far less space than even a paperback.

Battery life – Not as long as I’d like and it seems to take forever for the Kindle to fully recharge.  Amazon claims charging from your computer is the fsatest, but I have yet to compare it with the AC adapter speed.  It does hold a charge a long time when turned off.

3G service – Works like a charm.  No issue at all.  While I do live in a rural area, it’s at the edge of a big metro area and I do get regular ATT cell service these days.  I can’t speak to the  wi-fi as I have’t used it.  (NOTE:  By choice, I use a hard wired connection on my laptop.)

Reading – This is where the rubber hits the road.  Yes, legibility is good as is the contrast.  Text is clear. BUT ……. I am a fast reader and when you have so few words per page and only 1 page visible at a time, you’re CONSTANTLY turning pages. It isn’t smooth.  Easy to go too far and then you’re flipping back.  You want to check a detail 2 (or is it 3?) chapters back, no easy way to scan to what you want. It simply isn’t as easy, or as fast, as flipping through the pages of a book.

The Book Rating Pop-up – OK, this feature is ANNOYING, seriously, stunningly, ANNOYING.  On the last page, before you navigate away, it wants you to rate the damn book/novella.  Well guess what, you MUST be hooked into wi-fi to rate a book!  I HATE THAT DAMN THING!  Then you have to fumble around to make it stop.  Did I mention I HATE THAT DAMN THING?

Compared with Acrobat on Laptop – I have hundreds of ebooks purchaed in pdf (non-DRM) on my laptop.  I compared reading the same ebook on my laptop and on the Kindle.  I actually like the ease of the laptop better.  Acrobat allows me to move from page to page very at a natural reading speed, so I find it more comfortable, I have more words visible, and easy navigation.  I have Acrobat Pro, so I do have features not available in the free reader software, but I don’t think that matters all that much.

FINAL DECISION – Is the Kindle worth the price?  hummmmm ………. Yes and no.  If I was on the road the way I was 10 years ago, it would be a simple YES!  If you think you’ll save money, then the answer is no, especially if the majority of your reading is mass market paperback.  The instant gratification of getting a book is offset by the many device limitations.  Yes, there are some savings to be had on hardcovers, but a $2-4 per book, that’s a lot of hardcovers before you hit a beak even on the cost of the device.

The majority of computer users have notebooks, net books, or tablets.  All can carry the Kindle app for reading or you can read from your Amazon Cloud account.  Smartphones do as well, but the tiny screens must drive any fast reader insane.

The Bottom Line – If you always travel with a computer or smartphone, consider the battery life issue first.  If you want to save your battery for work, games or movies, then by all means, Kindle is a good idea.  If you have a desktop, then it’s an ever BETTER idea, but consider the Kindle Fire instead.  A great compromise between a heavy laptop and the limited option ereader only.  If you have a smartphone, them we’re back to the whole battery life thing.  The simple Kindle ereader has far better battery life than the power hungry color screen tablets, airbooks, and smartphones.  So if you have long flights or want audio books, it’s the way to go.  The greater the flexibility, the flashier the display, esp, color screens, the shorter the battery life.  That makes it a very personal decision that every makes for themselves.

If you don’t want the Kindle, get the Kindle App for your computer and you’ll get all cool extra free stuff and cheap ebooks for some titles, then buy the print when it makes sense.

Many books I buy I know will go to someone else.  Very often 4-5 others before moving to some Goodwill shelf somewhere.  Print books are much easier to pass along.  Yes, you can lend Kindle books, but it’s a nuisance compared with passing around a print book.  If you’ve come of age in the digital era, then this seems silly.  If you over 40, and not a ‘gadget’ person, it doesn’t.  I guess what bothers me most is that digital content can disappear, a print book can still be read by people 100 years from now.  I’ve been dealing with computers since the early 80’s, so I’ve had a lot of different operating systems and software ‘state of the art’ stuff become passé in year or two.  None have lasted 5 years.  With ‘new’ kindles and Kindle Fire devices out and newer ones already in development, the other question becomes one of money.  It will be another expensive toy that gets replaced every 3 years or so.  My laptops are for work, and I plan on their being replaced every 3 years.  It’s part of the cost of doing business – and not that much more than a Kindle, it’s just not as convenient.  The Kindle has nothing to do with business.  So it’s something to keep that in mind when deciding on buying a device.  If the money is meaningless, enjoy.  More importantly, if the convenience matters, it’s a great choice.

As for me, well, I expect the print book vs ebook balance to 90/10.  Print suits my current life better.  For me, the Kindle is a toy, not an essential.

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